I'm not interested, the way some people are, in being sad. I've had a look, and there's nothing down that road. Well now What about the ripping sound behind my eyes, the starchy tearing of fabric, end to end; what about the need I have to curl up my knees when I sleep?
For all of her life, 44 year old Reta Winters has enjoyed the useful monotony of happiness: a loving family, good friends, growing success as a writer of light 'summertime' fiction. But this placid existence is cracked wide open when her beloved eldest daughter, Norah, drops out to sit on a gritty street corner, silent but for the sign around her neck that reads 'GOODNESS.' Reta's search for what drove her daughter to such a desperate statement turns into an unflinching and surprisingly funny meditation on where we find meaning and hope.
Warmth, passion and wisdom come together in Shields' remarkably supple prose. Unless, a harrowing but ultimately consoling story of one family's anguish and healing, proves her mastery of extraordinary fictions about ordinary life.
Shortlisted for James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Fiction) 2002 and Booker Prize for Fiction 2002 and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2002 and Orange Prize for Fiction 2003.
Carol Shields's novels include Larry's Party (1997), winner of the 1998 Orange Prize; The Stone Diaries (1993), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Republic of Love (1992); Happenstance (1991) and Mary Swann (1990). Dressing Up for the Carnival, a bestselling collection of short stories, was published in 2000, and a previous collection, Various Miracles, was published in 1994. Born and brought up in Chicago, Carol Shields has lived in Canada since 1957. She was the Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg.